Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Quip will bypass the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) and point for the Preakness Stakes (G1) instead, trainer Rodolphe Brisset confirmed April 23.
Quip, who had 90 qualifying points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, most recently finished second to unbeaten Magnum Moon in the April 14 Arkansas Derby (G1). Brisset said the son of Distorted Humor was fine physically, but the three-week turnaround to the first leg of the Triple Crown might be too much too soon for the bay colt.
"I talked to the ownership last week about the way he came out of the race and he came out fine and sound," Brisset said. "But I feel like the three weeks is going to be asking too much. Of course I want to run in the Kentucky Derby, but I have to think about the horse first. To run in the Derby just to run is not the thing to do.
"We have a horse who could definitely win a grade 1 down the line but that three-week time frame is just too short. He's going to need a bit more time. So he's going to be pointed to the Preakness."
Quip is owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, and SF Racing. WinStar and China Horse Club are also co-owners of likely Kentucky Derby favorite Justify and Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible. WinStar also campaigns Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Noble Indy in partnership with Mike Repole.
Quip has won three of five career starts, with his only other loss coming when he finished seventh in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs in November. Had he gone on to the first leg of the Triple Crown, he would have represented the first starter in that classic for Brisset, who opened his own public stable in April of 2017 after serving as a head assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott for nearly a decade.
"I have too much respect for the horse. He put us on the map and it's the right thing to do for him," Brisset said of the decision to wait for the Preakness. "The main thing is he's sound and we really want to take care of him. And the ownership has a few other horses (for the Derby) so it was an easy decision."
The defection of Quip opens the door for multiple graded stakes-placed Combatant to get into the Kentucky Derby field. Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton, the Steve Asmussen-trained son of Scat Daddy most recently finished fourth in the Arkansas Derby, beaten just a head by Solomini for third.
"I think it's just matter of how he's doing next week," said David Fiske, manager of Winchell Thoroughbreds regarding Combatant's Derby status. "He's doing fine and he's won over the track. If not for a nose and a head, he would have been second in the Arkansas Derby and everyone would be going 'Oh he's a contender for the exotics.' And a nose and a head isn't much. So if you're someone who likes Solomini, you have to like Combatant."
Prior to the Arkansas Derby, Combatant finished third in the March 17 Rebel Stakes (G2) and second in both the Southwest Stakes (G3) and Smarty Jones Stakes, all at Oaklawn Park.
The complexion of the Derby field shifted further Monday afternoon when it was announced Derby hopeful Gronkowski would miss the 1 1/4-mile classic after spiking a fever this weekend and having to be treated with antibiotics.
With Gronkowski out, Instilled Regard—winner of the Lecomte Stakes (G3) earlier in the year—moves into the 20th spot by points in the Derby field.
Entries for the Kentucky Derby are taken May 1.